About the Cooley Center

The purpose of the Cooley Center is to explore the historical foundations of the Christian faith. This is accomplished by several means.

Cooley Collection

First, through the Center’s collection, there are numerous volumes and periodicals on anthropology, early Church history and archaeology in the Middle East during biblical times that are available to those interested in conducting research in these areas.

Lectures Series

Second, the Center’s annual lecture series brings scholars of note to Charlotte to address topics in Old Testament, New Testament and the Patristics, with the intent of correlating textual and archaeological evidence in all three of these areas.

News and Research

Third, the director, curator and fellow of the Center are involved in publication projects, the promotion of research and efforts to make scholarship accessible to a larger audience.


Finally, to make research “come alive,” the Center is involved in sponsoring trips to the lands of the Bible.
Cooley Center

Staff & Scholars

 Curriculum Vitae

Robert E. Cooley Professor of Early Christianity, Director of the Cooley Center, and Green Scholar

Dr. Donald Fairbairn (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the Director of the Cooley Center and Professor of Early Christianity and specializes in the development of Christian doctrine on the Trinity and Christ during the first six Christian centuries. He is particularly concerned with recognizing the Church’s consensus about Christian orthodoxy, in opposition to contemporary views that exaggerate the diversity within the early Church and thus undermine the very notion that there was such a thing as “orthodoxy.”

Dr. Fairbairn has lived and ministered in the Republic of Georgia and in Ukraine, and he has also taught in Russia, Belarus, Greece, Belgium, Hungary, England, and Canada. He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Trey (born in 2001) and Ella (born in 2003).

Publications by Dr. Fairbairn:

Curriculum Vitae

Senior Professor, Scholar in Residence for Biblical Literacy, and Green Scholar

Dr. Timothy Laniak (Th.D., Harvard University) is Senior Professor, Scholar in Residence for Biblical Literacy, and co-founder and co-president of BibleJourney, Inc. He has served as a missionary in 15 countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and has worked cross-culturally at institutions in Boston. Dr. Laniak is Director of Shepherd Leader Ministries (www.shepherdleader.com), a ministry focused on equipping leaders to think biblically about their roles.

Publications by Dr. Laniak

Associate Professor of Old Testament and Curator of the Robert C. Cooley Collection and Green Scholar

Dr. Catherine McDowell (Ph.D., Harvard University) comes to Gordon-Conwell from Wheaton College in Illinois, where she also taught Old Testament. Her teaching experience includes former positions at Gordon-Conwell and Harvard. As a graduate teaching fellow at Harvard, she taught classical Hebrew, Ancient Near Eastern history and archaeology.

Dr. McDowell has also been active in church ministry, teaching adult education courses in Old Testament and Bible study methodology for Park Street Church in Boston and Redeemer Presbyterian Church in North Carolina.

She has also worked for Vision New England, both as a conference speaker and as a consultant for leadership training curriculum development. For a number of years, she worked in the field at archaeological digs in Israel. Her writings include articles in such well-known publications as the Basics of Biblical Hebrew textbook, the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and the Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research.

Dr. McDowell has earned a number of honors and awards for her work, including the Faculty Development Grant from Wheaton College, an award for excellence in the teaching of undergraduates at Harvard College, and a $36,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trust for her Ph.D. studies.

As the curator for the Cooley Center, Dr. McDowell works closely with the Cooley Fellow and the Gordon-Conwell librarian to oversee a balanced and robust growth of the collection’s books, journals, media and artifacts.

Publications by Dr. McDowell

Curriculum Vitae

Professor of Biblical Theology and Ethics and Green Scholar

Dr. Rollin G. Grams, Professor of Biblical Theology and Ethics (Ph.D., Duke University), serves with United World Mission in international theological education and has taught in Singapore, Kenya, Ethiopia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Russia, Austria and England. Dr. Grams has served as the assistant editor for Transformation, an academic journal on holistic mission published in the UK, and as the program director for the M.A. in Biblical Studies at the Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia. He has been a doctoral supervisor with the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and the International Baptist Theological Seminary. He also lectures with TCMI (Austria) and Stellenbosch Theological Institute (South Africa).

Publications by Dr. Grams

Curriculum Vitae

Director of the Green Scholar’s Initiative and Cooley Center Research Scholar

Dr. Jerry Pattengale (Ph.D., Miami University) is University Professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. He has spoken on many of the nation’s largest campuses, has founded and helped direct various national initiatives, and has numerous books, publications and unique life experiences. In recent years, he served as Executive Director of the Green Scholars’ Initiative, the research arm of the world’s largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts. The Green Collection’s major museum is located near Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and its Verbum Domini and Passages exhibits have been featured in prominent locations, including the Vatican. Currently Jerry serves as Assistant Provost at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU)—one the nation’s three largest Christian universities. He’s attracted $40 million in educational funding to IWU, and in 2012 received its top honor, “The World Changing Faculty Award.” He has research appointments at Baylor University, The Sagamore Institute, Tyndale House–Cambridge, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and is the Director of National Conversations, the Associate Publisher, Christian Scholar’s Review, and on the national board of directors for the Religion News Service. He received the National Student Advocate Award (USC), two Professor of the Year Awards (APU), an NEH Award to Isthmia, Greece, and established the record viewership for the prominent Teaching Professor broadcasts (Madison, WI). Recent books include Biblical Evidence; Beyond Integration?; Taking Every Thought Captive; Straight Talk: Clear Answers about Today’s Christianity; Why I Teach; The Purpose-guided Student; Helping Sophomores Succeed and; Visible Solutions for Invisible Students. In August, 2012, he was appointed as a general editor for the first series (of three) with Brill Publishers (Leiden). And from 2011 to 2013 he produced four lecture (and DVD) series involving over 50 top biblical scholars, including a series with the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome), and in 2013 appeared in three History Channel segments. Jerry is one of the pioneers of Purpose-Guided Education, a humanities-based approach to student success. His Accidental Author newsprint series has run for over a decade and he contributes regularly to Books & Culture and the Washington Post. He received international recognition for co-developing the Odyssey in Egypt initiative, attached to their excavation in Egypt and schools in Western Michigan.

More recently, Dr. Pattengale serves as Editor-in-Chief, The Bible: Its History, Story and Impact (Compedia, Israel, 2014, in Hebrew, used in Tel Aviv area schools, officially approved by Israeli Department of Education). A major public gathering has celebrated this curriculum (Ramat Gan, Israel, May 20, 2015).  Furthermore, recent essays appear in the current issues of Books & Culture, “No Alexandrian Romance: The Macedonian Ascendancy” and in CCCU Advance (national publication of Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), “Women and Leadership in Higher Education.” Three book chapters have also been accepted for three different academic publishers, “Ancient Laws and Crimes,” (Hendrickson’s, 2015) “The Whole-Student Approach as a Retention Model,” (Stylus, 2015) and “Media, Contemporary Print and Digital [Top Christian Venues]” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016).

Also of special interest, Dr. Pattengale co-presented with Rory Crowley, “The Green Scholar’s Initiative’s Scholar-Mentor/Junior-Scholar Approach: Preliminary Results from a Working Pedagogical Case Study” at the SOTL Commons Conference hosted by Georgia Southern University (3.26.2015). This type of presentation was long in planning, and anticipated in the founding of the GSI model. Additional roles include serving on the boards of the Religion News Service and Yale’s Jonathan Edwards’ Center, and as associate publisher for Christian Scholar’s Review.

Finally, his humorous “Buck Creek Chronicles” newsprint column is in its 13th year and is appearing in a four-book series, Buck Creek: True Stories to Tickle Your Mind.  And on a special note, this winter an unsolicited funder distributed Telling the Truth with a Smile: Christmas Stories from the Buck Creek Series to 12,000 readers (DustJacket, Dec., 2014).

Jerry lives in Indiana with his wife, Cindy. They have four adult sons.

Ph.D., Miami Univ. (OH), Ancient History | M.A., Miami Univ. (OH), Tudor-Stuart History

M.A., Wheaton College (IL), Interpersonal Development | B.S., Indiana Wesleyan University, History, Religion

704-435-6408 or 704-308-5605

Research Fellow for the Cooley Center

Mark B. Poe is responsible for overseeing the content of the Center’s website, conducting research for Center projects and staff, managing the logistics for the annual Cooley Lecture series and patron’s lecture event, editing the bi-annual Cooley Center newsletter, and working with the Center curator and the Gordon-Conwell librarian on acquisitions for the Center. He is also the contact person for those wishing to do research using the Center’s materials and iMac computer.

Mark has earned both an MA in Biblical Studies and an MA in Christian Thought from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary–Charlotte. His primary areas of interest are historical Jesus studies, Second Temple Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Mark has also served as the lead teaching assistant for BibleJourney and is an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church. Mark is currently the senior pastor of First Wesleyan Church, Cherryville, NC.

He is married to Cynthia and has two sons, Andrew and Matthew.

Curriculum Vitae

Senior Librarian and Director of the Gordon-Conwell libraries

Joining Gordon-Conwell in 1997, Dr. Robert J. Mayer brings extensive experience in writing, publishing and research. Dr. Mayer, working with the Cooley Research Fellow and Curator, is responsible for acquiring current recent scholarly publications and resources, thus keeping the Cooley Collection up-to-date and growing.

From 1982-1997, he served as the editor of the Advent Christian Witness magazine and as the director of publications for the Advent Christian General Conference in Charlotte. He also chaired the 1992 Evangelical Press Association convention committee and is currently serving as co-chair on the local host committee for the upcoming 2013 American Theological Library Association convention in Charlotte. In addition to his writing and publishing work, Dr. Mayer has taught in a variety of academic and church settings. He is ordained by the Evangelical Church Alliance. Dr. Mayer’s scholarly interests include American church history, Advent Christian church history and theology, and 20th century American evangelicalism.

Publications by Dr. Mayer